Workout: Cardiologist on the health benefits of walking

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Gyms are often jam-packed with cardio equipment such as treadmills, ellipticals and bikes; the old faithfuls to many seasoned gym-goers. But while these all have their benefits, there’s nothing like falling in love with a new piece of equipment that people can incorporate into their routines.

And personal trainer Kira Stokes raves about the low-impact benefits of a particular type of equipment which also trains the upper body at the same time.

The SkiErg, which was first introduced in 2009 and socially designed by Concept2, helps build strength and endurance which is specific to Nordic skiing.

But its cardio and strength benefits should not be ignored by gym lovers.

Speaking to Self magazine, Ms Stoke explained: “This machine gets your heart rate up high with a focus on the upper body, which is unique.

“It’s really great for some people who have injuries to their lower bodies and all of a sudden feel like they can’t do cardio.”

Unlike other machines, the SkiErg focuses on working the upper body, therefore sparing a person’s joints.

Stokes noted that because the machine operates with a flywheel (a mechanism which creates a force to work against by pushing or pedalling against it), users have a lot of control over the resistance and intensity.

“The harder you pull the cables the faster the flywheel inside spins and that creates more resistance,” she said.

“Pretty much your entire upper body is worked when you’re going through the motions,” Stokes added, highlighting areas such as the lats, shoulders, triceps, abs and lower back.

“Any time you’re hinging at the hip, it strengthens your lower back,” she explained, before warning: “But you also have to be aware of your form in order to make sure you don’t strain your back.”

She advised to avoid injury, engaging the abs and glutei throughout will help ensure a person isn’t driving the movement from the lower back.

This will help keep the body stable, and also somewhat engages the quads and hamstrings.

While praising the SkiErg, Stokes offered some tips on how to use the machine properly to ensure users reap the full benefits.

How to use the SkiErg correctly:

– Feet should be shoulder-width apart

– Hold handles above the head with the arms slightly bent

– Pull the handles down in front while bending at the knees and pushing the hips back, mimicking the motion of skiing

– Pull the cables down and back until the hands are down by the thighs with arms parallel to the torso

– Then, straighten the arms as much as possible

Bring back arms to starting position while lifting onto tiptoes

Repeat the movement by lowering the heels back down to the ground and continue the movement pattern.

Stokes also pointed out: “You also need to make sure you’re not holding that end straight-arm position too long before reversing the movement.

“If you wait too long, you’ll lose flywheel resistance,” she said, while explaining it may take a few goes before users “find their rhythm”.

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